Collaborative Divorce: An Alternative to the Traditional Adversarial Divorce

Those of you who know me know that I am particularly interested in family law.  Through my experiences learning about and observing the practice of family law, I have become convinced that our adversarial system is, more often than not, a poor way to resolve divorce.  This is especially true where children are in the picture.

So what’s the alternative?  I don’t know, but I did learn about a relatively new process that was created to avoid litigation in these cases called Collaborative Divorce (CD).  The CD process involves both parties to the divorce voluntarily signing a contract called a “Participation Agreement”.  The participation agreement states that each party agrees to work toward a negotiated resolution and will not litigate the case.  To me, it sounded like a good possible solution for people who don’t want to be dragged into litigation.  But, the more I looked into CD, the more I realized it couldn’t be for everyone (or even most individuals) who are going through a divorce.

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The Problem with Wisconsin’s Parental Power of Attorney Law

Late last year, the Wisconsin legislature passed Wisconsin Statute section 48.979, which allows parents to delegate their parental rights to third parties by simply filling out a “Parental Power of Attorney” (PPOA) form.

Section 48.979 essentially allows parents with legal custody of their children to designate any third-party adult with nearly full decision-making power over a child’s life. What troubles me about this new law is that it does not allow for any oversight.

Section 48.979 requires absolutely no court or child protective services approval for PPOAs. I would imagine that some parents who might use a PPOA are people who have some difficulties in their own lives and, in turn, in raising their children. There is a long-standing Constitutional presumption that parents know what is in the best interest of their children and will act accordingly. Should we take that Constitutional presumption to mean that parents who might not be able to adequately care for their children should have the power to decide with whom their children should be placed and who should make decisions about their lives?

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Lawyers & Life: A Law School Course that Looks to the Future

I really didn’t know what I was getting into when I signed up for the class “Lawyers & Life.” I knew that in the course description, potential enrollees were warned that, if we were not up for a challenging semester, we should beware as this would not be a free ride. For the first day of class, each of the ten of us were required to prepare a short presentation answering each of the following questions:

• What is your personal conception, your vision, of professional success and satisfaction for you as a lawyer?

• How have you arrived at this conception, this vision, of what success and satisfaction mean for you and your career?

• How will you know when (or whether) you achieve your conception, your vision, of success and satisfaction?

• What particular skill or trait do you deem most indispensable for you to have in your arsenal in order to maximize the prospects that you achieve the success and satisfaction to which you aspire? How well is such a skill or trait already developed in you? What plans do you have to more fully develop and refine that skill or trait?

Though it seemed a bit daunting (and I put off the assignment for a while for that reason), I was pleasantly surprised when I began crafting my presentation.  I was really enjoying myself. For the first time since I began my law school endeavor, I felt that a professor was asking questions about me and about my greater career goals.

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